HCJ 9061/09 Jaba’ village council head v The General Officer Commanding Central Command

Residents of the Palestinian village Jaba’, north-east of Jerusalem were able to freely access their agricultural lands, which are adjacent to the Israeli settlement of Geva Binyamin Adam, until 2003. However, that year a peripheral fence was erected around the settlement, which denied the residents of Jaba’ access to some 400 dunams (nearly 100 acres) of their land, approximately one third of the village’s land. It should be noted that this land is registered private land.

Despite repeated appeals by the residents of Jaba’ to the Civil Administration, the fence was not removed, nor was access to the land enabled. After years of delaying, the residents were forced to petition the High Court of Justice (HCJ), with the assistance of Yesh Din, demanding the Civil Administration remove the unauthorized fence and enable the residents protected access to their land.

In the petition, Yesh Din noted that the residents of the village are protected persons under belligerent occupation; that the role of the army commander is to protect them; and that their primary source of income is agriculture. The petition also noted that the practice of unauthorized fencing to deny Palestinians access to their land is one of the tactics identified in Talya Sasson’s Outpost Report as a method for expanding the borders of settlements.

The petition states: “This denial of access gravely infringes on the petitioners’ property, livelihood, and way of life. It constitutes an act of gradual annexation of lands by the nearby settlement of Geva Binyamin Adam. The said annexation continues undisturbed without any effective enforcement by the authorities responsible for the rule of law in the area. These same authorities are also responsible for providing security for the protected persons in the area under their control, and this, despite it being clear the fence was constructed illegally.”

The petition also noted that there is an enclave of private land belonging to the residents of Jaba’ inside the settlement of Geva Binyamin, on which structures were built illegally. In its response to the HCJ, the State said that staff work was being done regarding the removal of fences throughout the entire area of the Binyamin Regional Council. The Court recommended the State carry out this staff work quickly and dismissed the petition.

Petition Status: As a result of the petition, the fence was removed and the petition was dismissed.